Some friends and I decided to dine at the Southern Cross Yacht Club’s annual truffle degustation dinner that was held about two weeks ago. Price-wise this degustation was a lot cheaper than the rest on offer in Canberra at approximately $90 for 5 courses. The truffle dinner was held in the marquee behind the club and the heater was on full blast. My name was marked off at the door and I was shown to my seat at one of the four long linen covered communal tables. Coincidentally, I was seated opposite one of J’s work colleagues (small world Canberra is!).
The evening started off with the owner of the club introducing the truffle dinner and Mr Wayne Haslam, owner of Blue Frog truffles, that supplied the truffles for the evening. Courses were matched to three Lake George wines.
Course 1 – truffle infused foie gras terrine with sweet onion marmalade. There was a large portion of foie gras and only one tiny little (one mouthful-sized) toasted piece of bread to eat it with. I couldn’t really taste the truffle as the foie gras was very offal-like and rich. I could handle a small smearing of this with the bread to eat slowly, so would have liked more pieces of bread. I was also a little disappointed that though the menu did say this was the ‘pre-entree’, it was considered as one of the courses of the degustation.
Course 2 – truffle stuffed spatchcock breast served with truffle morel cream ragout. This smelled great and I was looking forward to a hearty winter dish. The spatchcock was juicy and swimming in the ragout which was very creamy and rich with a hint of truffle mixed throughout. I was grateful for the shavings of truffle on top as well. The small potato crisp helped to provide a crunchy fried element to the dish. Although I did like all of these flavours, I felt that there was too much ragout which made the dish off-balance and was a bit of a waste since no one could finish it.
Course 3 – mint and champagne sorbet. I haven’t had alcohol in a very long time so I could really taste the strength of the champagne in the sorbet! I didn’t particularly like this but I know most people enjoyed the freshness of the mint and the cheeky champers. Again, I was disappointed that this was considered as one of the courses in the degustation. There was no truffle in it!
Course 4 – pan seared milk fed veal tenderloin, served with seared duck liver, 7 hours port wine stewed mushrooms in bone, creamy truffle mash, poached white and green asparagus and Madeira jus. This was my favourite dish of the night. The succulent and oh-so-soft tenderloin was one enormous piece of meat cooked medium rare – just how I like it. Sitting on the plate was an actual hollow bone filled with marrow and the most delicious mushrooms. These were plump and full of flavour and thankfully any trace of port wine had evaporated. The marrow just melted in your mouth and I smeared most of this onto the veal. The mash was another favourite – so buttery and I could smell and taste the amazing truffle flavour. Just delicious.
Course 5 – truffle flavoured pure dark chocolate triangle with raspberry and white chocolate mousse. The truffle flavoured chocolate cake was extremely rich and chocolatey. I left most of this behind as it was too rich for me plus I couldn’t fit anything else in my belly. I loved the truffle ice cream but it was a very small scoop and melted quickly. I think a bigger scoop would have been more practical to take the edge off the chocolate cake. I liked the glistening white chocolate mousse which was light and fluffy, hiding the raspberries inside.
Although I did enjoy myself, I felt that it was really only a 3-course dinner with 3 matching wines. The pre-entree was tiny and the sorbet was more of a palate cleanser. Nevertheless, it was a great night with wonderful company. I found out later on that The Food Marshall was also at the dinner but I never saw her with all of the people there. Gluten and other allergies are catered for with prior notice. As most of my friends and I don’t drink, our neighbours loved having the additional wine. We also learnt a few things about truffles from Wayne Haslam. Did you know the truffle-infused oils you can buy actually use artificial truffle flavour?
Truffle season is pretty much over as most restaurants hold their truffle events during July and early August. The Southern Cross Yacht Club’s truffle degustation was held late in the season and we’re assured it will be held earlier next year. The Truffle Festival website is a great source for all things truffle including which restaurants are doing what events. Keep an eye on it for next year.
Value for money 6/10
FPJ score 20/30
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